This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published November 7, 2016 by PJ Media.
Leaked funding documents reveal an effort by George Soros and his foundations to manipulate election laws and process rules ahead of the federal election far more expansively than has been previously reported.
The billionaire and convicted felon moved hundreds of millions of dollars into often-secret efforts to change election laws, fuel litigation to attack election integrity measures, push public narratives about voter fraud, and to integrate the political ground game of the left with efforts to scare racial minority groups about voting rights threats.
These Soros-funded efforts moved through dozens of 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) charities and involved the active compliance with civil rights groups, government officials, and purportedly non-partisan groups like the League of Women Voters.
The leaked documents also reveal deliberate and successful efforts to manipulate media coverage of election issues in mainstream media outlets like the The New York Times.
Conservatives and Republicans have no opposing effort or source of funds that represents even a small fraction in opposition to level of the Soros-led manipulation contained in the leaked documents.
The documents reveal that the Soros campaign fueled litigation attacking election integrity measures, such as citizenship verification and voter ID. It funded long-term efforts to fundamentally transform election administration — including the creation of databases that were marketed to state governments for use in voter verification. It propped up left-leaning media to attack reports of voter fraud, and conducted racially and ideologically targeted voter registration drives.
The racially targeted voter registration drives were executed at the same time Soros dollars were funding other public relations efforts to polarize racial minority groups by scaring them about the loss of voting rights and the dangers of police officers.
The Soros documents reveal hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into the effort to transform the legal and media environment touching on elections. One document notes that poverty-alleviation programs are being de-emphasized for this new effort. It states: “George Soros has authorized U.S. Programs to propose a budget of $320 million over two years, with the understanding that the annual budget for U.S. Programs will be $150 million beginning in 2013.”
The purpose of the expansion is clear:
The increase in Democracy and Power Fund budget will expand funding of non-partisan voter engagement to catalyze participation from African-American, Latino, immigrant, and youth communities in particular, and to ensure a fair and just redistricting process. The increase in the Transparency and Integrity Fund will expand support for election reform, judicial independence and journalism.
Below are some highlights of this expansive Soros-funded campaign to alter the legal environment and rules of American elections.
- Soros funded multiple attacks on state voter identification laws in places such as Wisconsin, North Carolina and Virginia. While not successful at the trial court in North Carolina and Virginia, the Soros litigation won a victory in the appeals courts resulting in North Carolina election integrity laws being suspended for the presidential election. Worse, the litigation resulted in opinions by federal appeals courts which could potentially turn the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into a one-way political ratchet that helps Democrats, as long as Democrats can enforce racially polarized voting patterns.
- Soros documents show funding for the League of Women Voters and their effort “to catalyze greater participation from Black and Latino youth in advocacy both before and after elections.” The LWV is currently in federal court trying to stop efforts by Kansas, Georgia, and Alabama to verify that only citizens are registering to vote. The same organization intervened in a lawsuit by the Public Interest Legal Foundation to clean voter rolls in a Virginia jurisdiction with more registered voters than eligible citizens.
- Soros documents show funding of $250,000 for the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP before the group then sued to stop the use of voter ID in North Carolina. Other groups in North Carolina that were on the funding documents include: “Action Institute NC — $75,000 over one year . . . North Carolina Latino Coalition — $75,000 . . . New World Foundation — $300,000 over one year . . . North Carolina Fair Share Education Fund — $75,000 . . . School for Creative Activism Leaked Soros funding document. $75,000.”
- Soros documents show that it funded efforts to attack the efforts of Tea Party organizations such as True the Vote to promote election integrity and triggered Department of Justice action. One funding document states that the Campaign Legal Center, [former John McCain lawyer] Trevor Potter, and the Brennan Center worked on “voter registration reform” and efforts to attack Tea Party groups. “CLC is focusing most of its efforts on the threat posed by these private ‘challenger’ groups and, to that end, has been gathering information on the activities of such groups, including Houston-based True the Vote. Working in partnership with Transparency Fund grantee Project Vote, CLC has pieced together a narrative that strongly suggests a widespread effort by True the Vote to suppress minority voting. CLC made Open Records Requests to officials in Houston to obtain all communications between True the Vote and Houston election offices, obtained and analyzed these documents and presented their findings to the United States Department of Justice last month. Following this meeting, the Justice Department sent federal officials to Houston to monitor the May primary elections. One other aspect of CLC’s work in this area is its Executive Director, J. Gerald Hebert’s role as chief counsel to a group of intervenors in State of Texas v. Holder.”
- The funding documents name groups which received in excess of $500,000 each year from Soros. They include: “Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center for American Progress, Advancement Project, Center for Community Change, Brennan Center.” Three of the largest recipients are engaged in litigation and strategic communications denying voter fraud and seeking to transform the rules of elections.
- Soros money is moving away from pressing for “campaign finance reform” and speech regulations, and instead into election process areas. The funding documents state “We do recommend shifts in a significant area of previous strategy. Historically, OSI played a leading role in promoting campaign finance reform models at the national and state levels. In recent years, changed conditions caused us to re-examine our approach, and our analysis led us to begin discontinuing our support to campaign finance reform groups.”
- Soros money fought voter ID, everywhere. The leaked documents state: “The 2012 elections proved that momentum is with the voting rights and civil rights community rather than their detractors. Not only was this field successful at blocking restrictive laws from being implemented in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and South Carolina, but a strong coalition in Minnesota came from behind to achieve the first victory against photo ID on the ballot.”
- Soros money was directed at the Advancement Project and Brennan Center to influence media coverage on election integrity issues and provide voter fraud denial propaganda. Leaked funding documents state: “In a specific grant update, the U.S. Programs board-funded communications and messaging project was successfully led by the Brennan Center and the Advancement Project, and played an important role in the spike in media attention on voting rights this year. The groups developed affirmative voting rights messages and shared them widely in and beyond the field. The messages were used verbatim hundreds of times in sources ranging from The New York Times to the Philadelphia Inquirer, quickly and fully working their way into the media, national and local, and across social networking sites.” Verbatim.
- Soros funding documents reveal that the Brennan Center and Advancement Project, two organizations regularly opposing election integrity measures in court, were among the largest Soros funding recipients for the entire Soros program.
- ERIC, the program seeded by PEW to allow states to verify voter identity which many states now use, was started with Soros money and an “anonymous” donor.
- Soros money partnered with the Rockefeller Family Fund to push for changes to voter registration policies at the national level and gave money to Pew Center On The States to push for voter list maintenance practices favorable to Soros at the state level. After these grants were made, Oregon and California moved toward mandatory voter registration, where everyone who is on a government database is automatically put on the list of eligible voters. Legislation was also introduced in Congress to nationalize voter registration even though the Constitution gives power to the states to run their own elections.
- Soros money funded a variety of organizations to “broaden the voices calling for reform” including the Brennan Center for Justice which subsequently issued a report on mandatory voter registration.
- Soros money is funding some of the loudest voices who deny that voter fraud is a serious problem. These voices have produced poorly researched studies that are routinely cited by mainstream media to argue that voter fraud is a myth. Among the groups are the Brennan Center for Justice and the Advancement Project, two organizations that have opposed election integrity laws and have sought to stop the efforts of states to ensure that only citizens are voting. Soros grants also went to “New America Media,” which describes itself as “a nationwide association of 3,000 ethnic media organizations representing the development of a more inclusive journalism.” This mix of funding for media efforts with non-profit organizations that oppose election integrity was branded as “Broad and Equitable Access to the Ballot” in Soros funding documents.
- Soros money fueled efforts by Pew to press for election administration reforms. Those efforts produced a system called ERIC which many states have adopted to verify voter eligibility. As a condition of participation in ERIC, states must pay significant fees as well as do a mailing to all unregistered voters in that state encouraging them to register to vote. The Soros funding documents state: “Because work at the state level is important in laying the groundwork for more sweeping reforms (in this and other areas within the Fund), we will also recommend funding The Pew Charitable Trusts “Make Voting Work” program (formerly a joint Pew-JEHT initiative), which supports innovative models at the state level and plans to expand into the arena of automatic registration in the coming year. This program works with state elections officials to standardize — and where necessary professionalize — election administration. Pew plans to focus its efforts on 4 states. Other state-level election systems funding will include continued support for advocacy around enforcement of various provisions of the Voting Rights Act, particularly related to voter registration. We are also likely to partner with other Election Administration Fund allies in promoting Election Day Registration and other efforts that build towards comprehensive structural reforms.”
- The leaked documents also reveal how Soros-funded organizations hector state and local election officials into adopting policies favorable to the left through hard work and behind-the-scenes pressure: “Advocates in Georgia have been sitting in on board of elections meetings to spot discriminatory voting practices, while those in Los Angeles have started working with the County Registrar-Recorder’s office to plan best practices workshops for the annual national election officials’ association convening this August.” Local voter rolls are infested with millions of ineligible voters, in part because local and state election officials refuse to do what is necessary to clean them.
- Soros-funded groups even swoop in after ligation to push narratives to voters about the results of Soros-funded litigation. One leaked document shows $158,000 was spent on this activity in Texas alone: “Texas Election Protection ($158,000): The Opportunities Fund grant supported last-minute voting rights work in the state of Texas to ensure that: (1) registered voters were aware of new voter identification requirements; and (2) advocates were able to collect data showing the continued discriminatory impact of voter ID laws. As a result of this grant, the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline received a record number of calls — up 45% from 2010.” This is a movement that spares no expense.
Racially Motivated Voter Registration and Media Manipulation on Election Issues
Soros money specifically targeted voter mobilization efforts of racial minority groups that exhibit racially polarized voting patterns and can be counted on to support Democrats. For example, the “Democracy and Power Fund” was established to “inspire the participation of people of color, immigrants, young people, and low income people . . . . The fund invests in multi-issue advocacy, organizing and voter participation organizations that work at the federal, state and local level to expand access to democracy and build power for lasting social justice and systemic change.” This distinct effort from all of the other Soros activities involved over $15,000,000 in just the three-year period from 2010-2012 (dollars named below in millions).
Other documents reveal extensive funding streams to tilt process rules involving elections. According to the review of leaked documents:
- The “Democracy and Power Fund” funded efforts to “increase participation in the 2010 U.S. Census, a key effort to ensure that OSI communities of interest — immigrants, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, low-income people, and people of color — will not be undercounted. The count is not merely about demographics, for it determines how billions in federal programs get distributed, how congressional, state, and local political representation is divvied up, and how economic development occurs — or not — in communities.”
- Soros money is fueling the narrative in the mainstream media about election process issues. The leaked funding documents describe how the propaganda about the “myth of voter fraud” is generated by two Soros-funded organizations, moved to blogger and racially-centric media outlets, and eventually to mainstream media. The leaked documents, for example, state: “Brennan and Advancement disseminated the messaging materials widely through convenings and webinars to voting rights organizations, labor unions, and issue advocacy groups. The project’s messaging worked its way into national and local media. A complementary $200,000 grant to New America Media, a multi-media content producer and aggregator for ethnic media, extended this work to thousands of local ethnic media outlets. The public opinion and communications efforts influenced registration and get out the vote efforts, ballot initiative outcomes, and this fall’s string of court victories for voting rights.”
- Soros money funds this “Media Consortium” according to leaked funding documents. Documents show that in one two-year period, another $200,000 in Soros money moved to the “Media Consortium” itself. The effort is described as “a network of leading progressive independent journalism organizations focused on making connections, building a media infrastructure, and amplifying the voices of progressive journalists in the United States. Over the past year, the Media Consortium has done much to build community and greater strength among progressive media outlets, and is creating a cooperative infrastructure that supports a sustainable future for journalists.” Progressive media outlets have taken the lead in denying that voter fraud exists and in opposing election integrity measures. Mainstream journalists frequently parrot progressive writers when covering voter fraud, thus rendering the Media Consortium Soros dollars well spent.
- Prior to the 2012 election, Soros organizations also planned to move millions to a swarm of downstream groups to fund organizing and political activities. These include obscure names such as $300,000 for “Black Youth Vote,” $75,000 for “Blueprint North Carolina,” and $300,000 to the “Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network” to name just three of many others.
- Soros money is also behind the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund. $300,000 in Soros money went to “mobilizing the Latino community to engage in civic life, and promoting policies that advance Latino civic engagement.”
- $500,000 went to the National Council of La Raza and Democracia USA to conduct “nonpartisan voter registration and voter education in latino communities.”
- $200,000 went to the Center for Civic Policy to engage “ordinary people in the policy debates that affect their daily lives through increasing voter turnout; educating and mobilizing the public on issues; and training new leaders for civic life.” The Center for Civic Policy is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization.
- Soros money is being spent on the local level to fundamentally transform the political environment in multiple states. The leaked documents state: “In coordination with the OSI Global Fellows Program, we recently participated in a panel on “Organizing in the Obama Era” that featured representatives from the National Domestic Workers Alliance, New Organizing Institute, and the Obama campaign. D&P staff are researching a set of six states where social justice capacity is lacking and the opportunities for and threats to an open society are great; states currently under consideration include Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia. D&P is working with peer funders Leaked Soros funding document. from Atlantic Philanthropies, Carnegie, Ford, and New World Foundations, among others Leaked Soros funding document. to increase national funding for building state capacity to influence issue work at the state and federal levels.”
- Soros money is fueling the effort to reassert federal control over state elections by passing amendments to the Voting Rights Act. Funding documents state “In the wake of the Shelby decision, we have continued working with the Ford Foundation to convene both grantee organizations and funders to strategize and leverage resources in order to protect voting rights. The following three-pronged strategic approach, which was conceived by the field in conjunction with Open Society and Ford, and which includes c3 and c4 components, has emerged as the substantive focus of post-Shelby voting rights work.”
- The leaked funding documents also show who is generating the narrative to restore federal power: “We note that although we have yet to define the broader strategic communications response, our investment in the Advancement Project and the Brennan Center last year for strategic communications work to improve the public discourse on voting rights is continuing to pay dividends. Both groups are members of the Litigation Working Group and the Leadership Conference kitchen-cabinet for the Restore the Voting Rights Act Campaign. The Advancement Project is also working with state-based organizations in several states on monitoring, investigating, and challenging proposed voting changes. “